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Anchovy Sage Risotto and Carrot Tower with Shiraz Jelly

Anchovy Sage Risotto and Carrot Tower with Shiraz Jelly

This was another stunt-cooking entry in the Paper Chef online competition in which participants are given three ingredients and a weekend to cook somthing up an blog about it. The ingredients for this edition were rice, carrots, anchovies and "something from the other side of the world that helps make this dish a celebration for you." Pretty clear, except for the wild card ingredient, which required a bit of thought and research. 

A little Googling brought me to this website, where I found that "the other side of the world" from me here in Maine is somewhere in the eastern Indian Ocean off the Southwest corner of Australia. Leaving out online ordering or a drive to the Megalopolis, there are very few products available in Maine actually imported from "the other side of the world" -- especially if you're being pretty narrow and concentrating on the Southwestern region of Australia (the eastern Indian Ocean itself doesn't seem to produce much in the way of product for export, and the western Indian Ocean -- which is rather far from Australia -- produces mainly toothfish, renamed Chilean Sea Bass, for export but that's an overfished species now in extreme danger so we don't like to cook with that anymore).

One lonely bottle of 2003 Mad Fish Shiraz, from Southwestern Australia. That's it: the only ingredient I could find that was truly "from the other side of the world!" A little more Googling among the wine sites told me that the Mad Fish is a respectable wine, and a sip confirmed it: oakey, blackberry/spice notes, all those good wine-reviewer words (go Googling if you want to read more about this wine). 

I had pretty much decided already to make an anchovy-sage risotto and perch it on top of a carrot pancake, so I guess I could have just poured a glass of the Mad Fish and put it in the shot, but this is the Paper Chef! The fun is in trying to use all the ingredients in ONE dish that tastes and looks good. So, after a little research and experimenting I decide to top the tower with a disc of jelly made from my other-side-of-the-world ingredient.

Anchovy Sage Risotto and Carrot Cake Tower, with Shiraz Jelly

Special equipment required: 1 clean empty Progresso soup can (or something similar) for forming tower components.


1 C Arborio rice
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 oz anchovies with some of their oil
2 T capers minced.
4 T fresh sage chopped (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 C dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
2 C +/- low sodium meat broth (I used lamb)
2 T Parmeggiano Reggiano, shredded
salt, hot sauce to taste

Chop the anchovies, then mash with the side of the knife. Mix the anchovies, sage, capers, 1 tablespoon of the butter and the cheese in a small bowl and set aside. Prepare the risotto according to the procedure in the Master Risotto Recipe, using the above quantities, adding the wine to the broth at the start and mixing in the bowl of additions just before completion. Correct seasoning and allow to cool.

Wine Jelly

1 C + 1/2 C red wine
1/2 C sugar
1 packet unflavored gelatin (1/4 oz)

Mix the cup of wine and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to simmer. Meanwhile, place the other half-cup of wine in a bowl and scatter in the gelatin. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes, then pour in the hot wine-sugar mixture and stir to completely dissolve the gelatin powder. Pour into a flat bottomed container about 5" x 8" (40 square inches). Place on level shelf in refrigerator and chill 'til set (several hours).

Carrot Pancakes

2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
1 medium onion, sliced thin, slices halved crosswise
2 tsp kalonji (black onion seeds - from Indian market) (optional)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
2 T Parmeggiano Reggiano, shredded
3/4 C panko flakes
salt, hot sauce to taste
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients well. Correct seasoning. To cook, place a mound of the mix in an oiled skillet over medium heat and flatten it down with a metal spatula to the desired thickness. Cook about 5 or so minutes on a side, until browned. (Note that since the vegetables are uncooked to start you need to avoid browning them too fast or the inside will be uncooked and crunchy.)

Making the Towers

Use the forming ring to form patties from the cooled risotto. Bake them in an oiled dish about 20 minutes at 200º and allow to cool at least 5 minutes before continuing. Meanwhile, use the forming ring to cut disks of the same diameter from the carrot pancakes and the wine jelly.

Place the risotto cake atop the carrot pancake disk, then lay the wine jelly disk over the top. Neatening up the tower with a sharp knife is permitted at this point.  Garnish with a sage leaf and a carrot curl.


Serving temp. If the towers are assembled while hot the jelly will melt - which might be nice, but just so you know! I served them slightly warmer than room temperature and I thought that was fine.

Carrot cakes. These were really good on their own and would make a nice side for roast meats, etc.., possibly with some onion marmalade.

Pairing. I served this with marinated lamb chops, the same as the ones I made for the last Paper Chef except that I omitted the shiso from the marinade. The wine, of course, was the remaining Mad Fish, which seemed just right with the chops and risotto.

Final note. I was worried about the combination of the sugar in the jelly and the anchovies in the risotto, but unnecessarily so. It worked, especially with the chops. Think turkey, oyster stuffing, cranberry sauce. Nice counterpoint, no discord. I also worried that the flavor of the wine would be lost in the cooking and/or due to the addition of the sugar. Not a problem, however, it was a little bite of shimmering Shiraz!

And a good time was had by all....!


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wow. worth the wait.

Again, it looks fabulous! Just like you did before trying your dishes I feel a bit uneasy about some of the flavour mixes... I'm glad to hear it turned out great! It takes courage to mix unconventional ingredients and as you just proved, it can pay off!

Shiraz is one of my favorite reds. I like the "peppery" flavor it has, especially the Aussie vinted ones. The French (or syrah) and American versions are a little too fruity for me (though I'd still drink it, heh). Did that aspect come through in the jelly?

Stephen, this is the most magnificent entry yet!!!

It's gorgeous and I love the explanations.

Good luck - I'm sure you're a winner in more than one category.

Very nice presentation, and what a creative use of the ingredients!

Hey Dave..sorry to take so long to get back...the peppery/spicy flavor definitely held fact I was surprised how well the wine personality survived in that treatment...of course, I can't send this without saying once again that your entry was, as usual, wonderful...the playfulness is just great...does that come from living on an island, the water there, or were you just always playing with food? Whatever it is, I love it...!

Elise, s'kat, Ruth and MagicTofu, thanks so much for your kind words!

Mmmm Shiraz :) A very appropriate drink!

I wonder how it would have worked with a sparkling shiraz?

Since you mentioned toothfish I thought you might find it interesting to note, it is not avaliable in Sydney, we only here about it when a trawller is caught fishing illegaly.

Hi Stephen - Over the top. Completely over the top. Looks amazing.

Sounds delicious and looks absolutely stunning. And your lamb chops appear perfectly done.

Hats off for those lamb chops, lovel the pink doneness. I grew up imagining that they had to have a dusting of charcoal over them and be chewy.

Shiraz/ Cab Sav(aloy) it's as Aussie as it comes and they're actually not mad at Mad Fish which is disappointing.

This is really beautifully presented meal, which cleverly brings together the ingredients, with a great choice of wine to accompany. Thanks for making Paper Chef such a great experience for all the judges! By the way, Noodle Cook doesn't cook too well, hence the rather unusual experimental recipes. The funny thing was the blog started out with constant kitchen "mishaps", but the food started to taste good (maybe practise makes perfect)....:)

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